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Oahu is Hawaii’s most underrated island. Foodies certainly know about Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital, as a culinary destination, and expert surfers are well versed in Oahu’s dramatic North Shore. But fewer travelers know the appeal of the island’s innumerable options for luxury travel, whether urban or tropical.
Here are Oahu’s top 10 hotels for travelers looking for the ultimate in beaches, spas, dining, service, shopping and general decadence.
‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach
Known as the “cosmopolitan jewel of Waikiki,” the ’Alohilani is set right on the beach but has an understated, upscale profile. Common areas are designed for indoor-outdoor luxury, with a 200,000-gallon oceanarium, a saltwater infinity pool and a club for kids. There are two destination restaurants by Masaharu Morimoto on property, to boot, including a beer garden. Rooms are equally pleasing and come with ocean- or Diamond Head-views. Upgrade to Longboard Club access for an even more exclusive experience.
Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina
This Four Seasons gem is a short drive from the bustle of Honolulu, yet with easy access for those who want it. In itself, it’s a quiet, elegant property set on a protected beach that’s perfect for paddleboarding and with easy access to uncrowded West Side beaches. There’s even a Michael Mina Fish House that serves the local catch and a rotating display of fine art (the current artist-in-residence is Eduardo Bolioli). The top choice for service and amenities on the West Side.
Honolulu’s pinnacle of style is the Halekulani—which means “house befitting heaven”—and regulars from all over the world book here annually as a tradition. Both casual and refined, this hotel strikes a perfect balance between formal and utterly inviting. Set right on the beach in Waikiki, the Halekulani is a world apart from the tourist buzz of town. It’s a superb honeymoon destination (or wedding, for that matter), and there are two of the best restaurants in the city on site: upscale La Mer for fine dining and House Without a Key for great burgers and salads.
Kahala Hotel & Resort
Set apart from Waikiki in the posh residential neighborhood of Kahala, the Kahala Hotel & Resort is the only beachfront resort in the area, just a 10-minute drive from the heart of Waikiki. Oceanfront suites are the room category of choice here—all include TOTO washlets, jogging maps, iHome docking stations and access to a 24-hour fitness center with steam room and sauna. The property has some of the best views of the Diamond Head crater on the island, as well as complimentary shuttle service to Ala Moana Shopping Center.
One of the best hotel choices for traveling aesthetes on the island of Oahu, the perfectly named The Laylow is a design-forward Honolulu hotel where mid-century modern style intersects with Hawaiian hospitality. Rooms are joyfully decked out in soothing blue and peach tones with natural wood elements, high-tech entertainment systems, and even amenities for your pup, should you be traveling with one.
The iconic port-cochere at the Moana Surfrider is an emblem of Honolulu luxury, and the service and amenities here fulfill the promise of grandeur it implies. Rooms are understated and comfortable, some with balconies overlooking the beach. and spacious bathrooms have bidets. The pool just off the beach is a popular gathering place for families.
The Modern Honolulu
Less than a 10-minute walk from the ever-evolving Ala Moana Shopping Center, The Modern offers guests Ala Wai Harbor views in a stunning design-centric space. Rooms are designed in minimalist white textures, opening up a clean spaciousness and inviting relaxation. Pro tip: This is the best beach in Waikiki for beginner surf lessons, which the hotel can arrange.
The Royal Hawaiian
Waikiki’s famous “Pink Palace” has been a Honolulu destination hotel since 1927. The Royal Hawaiian’s opulent suites are the way to go here. Decor is a hybrid of Old World luxe and lush, local bounty. The hotel is a short walk to the Royal Hawaiian Center and Waikiki Beach Walk. You can rent a cabana right on the beach by day and reserve a town car to take you to dinner in town at night.
The Ritz-Carlton Residences
Especially nice for longer stays, this residential Ritz-Carlton property offers all the conveniences of a luxury home with all the services of a luxury hotel. There’s an eight-floor infinity pool with private cabanas and a 24-hour fitness center designed by celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak. Ocean-view rooms have spectacular vistas from floor-to-ceiling windows and deep soaking tubs, while residential units include kitchenette/kitchen, washer/dryer and a dishwasher in some accommodations. Service is top-notch.
Turtle Bay Resort
Far from the tourist throngs of Honolulu, the North Shore’s Turtle Bay Resort offers adventurous travelers water sports, hiking and horseback riding. There are oversized (725-square-foot) family suites for when you’re traveling with kids or another couple. The ocean villas here are the height of private luxury accommodation, set right on the beach and outfitted with private pools and Jacuzzis, a barbecue area and a gated parking lot.